Beautifully Bicol

Beautifully Bicol
FEAST WITH ME BY Stephanie Zubiri (The Philippine Star)
October 17,2010

The Beautiful Misibis Bay Resort on Cagraray Island, Bacaycay, Albay

The majestic Mayon Volcano dominates the landscape. It is a paradox of nature: peaceful and pleasing to the eye with its near perfection and yet that steady stream of smoke from above its peak is a constant reminder of its fearsome wrath and power. Like a mysterious, beautiful woman, she coyly hides herself under the clouds only to reveal sublimity in moments of clarity. You simply cannot take your eyes off her. No matter where you go, the thought of her lingers and haunts you.


Touching down in Legazpi airport, coming down from the airplane, no garish tourism signs welcome you, just the awesome view of the volcano. Taking a boat ride off Bicol’s pristine coast line, shimmering blue waters contrasting with emerald green tropical lushness, Mayon towers over all, peering out into the Pacific eternally. Atop mountains and hills, or even strolling along the Embarcadero Mall, there is no escape from its presence.

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Past Governors of Bicol – Masbate

Masbate is known as “the wild, wild west of the Philippines” and “the poor man sitting in the pot of gold”. Thanks to recent developments, the province is starting to shelve these names. Election observers for the May 2010 elections found Masbate to be relatively peaceful compared with the previous elections, and that the National Statistics Coordination Board noted Masbate “sliding in the list from being the poorest province in the country in the year 2000 with 70.2% poverty incidence to the 8th most poor in 2006 with 59.5%.

Unknown to many, however, Masbate is one of the early settlements in the Bicol Region. Artifacts dating back to as early as 10th century were found in Kalanay (now Aroroy), and when Captain Luis Enriquez de Guzman anchored on the shores of Masbate in 1569, he found tiny settlements spread along the coasts engaged in flourishing trade with China – an explanation why there are a number of Chinoys in the island-province. Masbate is also said to be the place where the Christianization of the Bicol started.

In part because it is the source of class lumber for the construction of galleons during the Spanish period, Masbate was declared a province in 1864. In 1908, this was revoked and Masbate was annexed to Sorsogon. Masbate again became an independent province on February 1, 1922.

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An Baao sa mata kan tambay

The Philippines is indeed living to its reputation as a “text (or short messaging system) capital” of Asia. One of the messages circulating in the “text-sphere” is the picture of Baao in Camarines Sur during the 80’s and the 90’s. The text message is reproduced as follows:

A Baao

Nalagalag na ika sa lugar ka Baao?
Natagayan kin alak sa San Jose?
Nabugbog kin tambay sa Buluang?
Narakop kin tanod ta curfew sa Sta. Cruz?
Nabadil sa Bagumbayan?

Napagtripan kin adik sa San Francisco?
Napangayamnan kin maligno sa Antipolo?
Nabayad a paruyan sa Salvacion?
Saka mga magagayon na raraga sa San Juan?

Napaalnas sa agiyan ka Caranday?
Napatambay ka o naging makuapo ni Barlin?
Natigbas sa Del Pilar?
Saka pagtsismisan kin mga tsismosa sa La Medalla?
Sirangon ta an gayon kan Baao.

I am not sure if this is still the picture of Baao today. Hopefully not. Cheers!